This is a post by Paul Callister and Heidi O’Callahan

“Handwashing is the best way to keep yourself and others safe during your travels. Wash and dry your hands carefully after touching public surfaces, and before and after eating.”

This was good advice from InterCity to its passengers, to minimise the risks from Covid 19, before its services were halted as part of Alert Level 4. Of course, it is good advice in general.

It’s useless advice, however, if passengers have no access to handwashing facilities.

In the midst of this Covid-19 crisis, it might seem trivial to consider the design of long distance buses. But the crisis has highlighted some systemic problems that – when services recommence – will compromise the health and safety of travellers. And, importantly, of the wider community. When services were running normally, the main provider, InterCity and Skip, had more than 20 bus services leaving Auckland each day, with over 130 services operating throughout New Zealand. Passengers must be able to maintain good personal hygiene on these services, for the good of the whole community.

New Zealand’s economy is having a shake-up at the moment that could easily result in more people rationalising their car ownership to save costs or returning to their hometown because living costs while unemployed are cheaper there. Domestic tourism is likely to expand well before international tourism does, too.

Establishing a National Public Transport Network needs to be a part of our economic recovery after Covid as much as it needs to be a response to climate change.

We have considered the off-bus infrastructure needed to better support long distance bus services. But the design of buses themselves is important for comfort, amenity, safe working conditions and wider community wellbeing.

This is a post about the buses themselves.

Credit for this image and the leading image: Flixbus

Carrying bikes

There are many health benefits from cycling. More cycleways are being built throughout New Zealand. But for those wanting to travel around the country there are gaps in the network. Cycling on main highways and many rural roads is dangerous in New Zealand. A traveller should also be able to cycle to a bus stop in one town and cycle once they reach their destination.

InterCity’s policy about carrying bikes is impractical. Bikes can be carried on some services but not others. The policy states that a bike box is required, which prevents cycling being a first and last leg option for the journey, and means families taking cycling holidays on off road cycling trails have to store the boxes somewhere, which is not always possible. Knowing this, plenty of drivers use their discretion, and accept bikes without boxes. This makes it very hard to plan trips if you need to take a bike.

In contrast, some overseas companies plan to carry a number of bikes on each trip. Many Flixbuses can carry up to 5 bikes before needing to put any in the luggage compartment.

Low emission buses

There is a danger in the post Covid-19 environment that the most support will be given to the high transport emission industries such as airlines. But there are health benefits for both the planet and individuals by investing in bus emission reductions. If we are to reduce emissions to 50% of 1990 levels, as we will need to do to do our part in keeping temperature rise to only 1.5 degrees, we will need to both switch to lower emission forms of transport and reduce emissions in all the modes. Diesel powered long distance buses already have significantly lower emissions footprint per passenger than planes or cars. But unlike aircraft, where dramatic emission reductions remain in the distant future, the technology for buses to cut their carbon footprints is all but ready for adoption. The obvious technology for New Zealand is electric buses. Other possibilities are bio-diesel and hydrogen fuel cells.

Z-Energy already produce a small amount of bio-diesel from waste tallow. There is the potential to produce more bio-diesel from waste streams and this needs investigating.

Flixbus had been experimenting with electric buses in Europe. While it ran into technical support issues and has abandoned the European experiment it is now planning to run electric buses in the US. National Express is the UK’s largest long distance bus company, which in normal times had been running over 1,800 services every day. In February 2020, the company pledged to become the first UK coach company to transition to a fully electric fleet by 2035.

Flixbus is also experimenting with hydrogen powered buses.

We need to see similar commitments in New Zealand.

Image Credit: Bus Queensland

Catering for disabled passengers

We will eventually get through the current crisis. But we already know that New Zealand has an ageing population. Investment in buses with wheelchair and wider disability access is critical if we are to support their mobility. Designing buses that allow easy access for wheelchair users or for people who have difficulty walking up steep steps is achievable.

Comments on InterCity’s own publicly open Facebook page indicate some of the problems.

“double deckers are all very well but not for elderly or handy capped (sic) you cant get up the stairs and drivers can get so rude when they see you”

 “I had a run in with a driver in Whangarei because I couldn’t get upstairs coz had a knee replacement. I booked for downstairs but was told I had to have a Gold Pass. I wasnt told that when I booked though.”

“I can’t get up them in 80 with walking stick”

“My elderly mum doesnt use buses anymore. Apparently drivers are not allowed to assist with getting on or off.”

It is clear InterCity’s rules have contributed to making it very difficult for those with limited mobility to travel by bus.

As our drivers travel alone, we do have some limitations regarding the level of assistance we are able to provide, and therefore passengers must be able to board and disembark the bus without assistance from the driver.

Passengers who require somebody to assist them on and off the bus must arrange for this assistance at pick-up and drop-off points.

For health and safety reasons, drivers are not permitted to assist in carrying of passengers. Passengers are advised that InterCity operates buses designed for long distance travel and that these vehicles may feature steps into the bus, as well as internal stairways to passenger seating areas.

This policy might be understandable in the midst of an epidemic. But these harsh policies are their standard policies.

Americans seem to be more attuned to the needs of disabled people. For example, Greyhound say:

We can help you get on and off the bus, and give you a hand with your baggage, wheelchair or mobility scooter. Just let your driver or customer service agent know at the station, and don’t be shy to ask them again if you need something during your trip, especially if you want to get off the bus during a stop.

Bus Queensland’s long distance buses try to cater for passengers who use wheelchairs; this seems to be a legislative requirement for all new buses in Australia. Wheelchair lifts are available and if the person travelling needs a carer, the carer will travel free of charge.

Loading and unloading bags

If InterCity’s policy about assisting elderly passengers was about protecting bus drivers from injury, there is no consistency in their concern when it comes to loading and unloading bags. The health and safety issues drivers face in handling bags are far more extreme. Rarely do they have baggage handlers to assist them. The systems used on New Zealand buses make the job difficult both for single story buses and double deckers, with drivers often having to bend double to crawl under raised doors and into baggage areas. Ideally, much of this heavy work would be somehow automated.

Image credit: https://toilet-guru.com/bus.php

And finally, back to the handwashing facilities.

Bus passengers need access to handwashing facilities and toilets.

In the internet of everything, it is no surprise to find a site that discusses bus toilets:

In an absolute sense, the toilet on board a long-haul bus will be among the worst toilets you are likely to encounter. Crude, uncomfortable, and smelly. But the best toilet in the world is the one that’s available when you really need it, when not having one would be a disaster. When you have to stay on the bus for another hour or two, a bus toilet can be the best toilet ever.

New Zealand is unusual in not providing on-board toilets on its long distance buses. Greyhound Australia have on-board bathrooms as do Greyhound in the United States. Flixbus, which operates in Europe and the US, have toilets on all their coaches. So do the buses operated by National Express in the UK.

In a recent post we illustrated the poor toilet facilities at the Auckland SkyCity depot.

Taupo is another example. There can be three buses there at once, some of them double deckers. There’s no way that two basins in the men’s toilet, none in the disabled toilet and three in the women’s toilet is sufficient. Nor the one soap dispenser apiece.

Auckland and Taupo and many other stops have inadequate facilities, but most of the toilet facilities provided can be overwhelmed by too many buses or have issues that put the facilities out of action temporarily. Just as both aeroplanes and airports are equipped with bathrooms, resilience requires that both the buses and the bus stops do too.

Covid 19 highlights that buses without these facilities are putting people at risk.

New Zealand is lagging behind other countries

Overseas, on-board toilets exist on long distance buses mainly because legislation requires them.

In New Zealand, it seems that legislation is required to improve bus design, including the ergonomics of luggage handling, providing bathrooms, wheelchair lifts and bicycle racks. Legislation is probably also required to mandate the level of service that companies and drivers should be providing in terms of assistance and ensuring everyone has time at stops to get to the bathroom and to wash their hands.

While we are in lockdown, high mobility may seem like a dream from another era. But this is the right time to plan. In a post Covid world, improving long distance buses is an affordable and achievable way to build on the existing network, which already links most towns and cities.

InterCity’s route map

This could be the first step of re-establishing a high quality National Public Transport Network which will be so important for wellbeing, access and regional development, as we attempt to recover sustainably from the crisis.

But how can we plan for a high quality low carbon regional bus network, or get some change in the legislative framework? Even the technical reference group advising the Climate Change Commission is missing a public transport expert. Without a transport minister focused on the issue, the issue might have to fall on a backbench MP to push forward a private members bill.

Long distance buses and the infrastructure to support them do not feature in the transport policies of any major party, but perhaps this election year, they could?

Kawakawa public toilets. Source: Te Ara

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91 comments

  1. Just a note, it’s better to say ‘wheelchair users’ (rather than ‘confined to a wheelchair’ which is old fashioned and inaccurate)

  2. Heidi, you say in the article “There is a danger in the post Covid-19 environment that the most support will be given to the high transport emission industries such as airlines” however it is not clear to me that domestic flights are worse in climate change terms than buses. The Book “Time to Eat the Dog?” has a table of energy consumption for various modes of transport which shows a bus has a consumption of 3.5 MJ/passenger-km compared to a Boeing 747 at 1.25 MJ/passenger-km. And while we need to add atmospheric forcing to these figures (seemingly fairly arbitrarily at a factor of x2), domestic flights on turboprops don’t fly as high and so have less atmospheric forcing and turboprops are also more fuel efficient than jets. The reason that international flights have such obscene carbon emissions is the massive distances – if you drove a bus to London there would be a massive carbon cost in the fuel too. So I think there needs to be more work put into the climate change effect in CO2e per passenger km of lower flying turboprop planes compared to other modes such as buses. Furthermore it is the short range flights that will be most easily electrified and become zero emission and lastly what is often missed is that aviation like coastal shipping has no infrastructure requirements between the endpoints. Travelling by plan (or ship) you or your goods are not adding to road wear, not causing road capacity issues.

    1. I use the Toitu Environcare carbon calculator as a guide to carbon emissions. For a flight between Auckland and Wellington it gives an estimate of 120 kg CO2e for a plane, 23kg CO2e for a long distance bus and 18kg CO2e for train. The plane will be a jet and it is true lower flying turboprops have lower per person emissions. But they will still be higher than bus. The train is rather theoretical given how few train trips cover this route. But if we did eventually get good services up and running and it was fully electrified – and using renewables – it is likely to be even lower. Many people hold out hope for electric planes. But apart from small planes flying short distances all the literature suggests the larger planes are decades away. And to get a plane up in the air using power from just solar panels or wind turbines will require much more power and we want new electricity for just about every other part of the economy as well.

      1. Even a fairly basic intercity train system should be practically zero emission given NZs renewable electricity supply. You could complete electrification of the network between Papakura-Hamilton, Hamilton- Tauranga and Palmerston North-Waikanae for around $300m.

        1. “You could complete electrification of the network between Papakura-Hamilton, Hamilton- Tauranga and Palmerston North-Waikanae for around $300m.”
          Where are your costings for that?

          And overhead catenary needs maintenance.

        2. Riccardo, Papakura-Tauranga electrification was priced by KiwiRail at $860m a decade ago. It will be well above $1b by now. Add PN-Waikanae as you suggest, it would be $1.6b+

          Then you have higher opex once its up and running, because you have to maintain track & overhead, instead of just track.

          It’s just not worth doing, either economically, or environmentally. There’s a huge opportunity cost with electrification, namely that the huge sums required to make it happen would acheive more for the environment if they were spent on acheiving mode-shift of freight from trucks to trains instead.

          The reduction in fuel use and emmisions is greater if you shift freight from diesel trucks to diesel trains, than it is changing diesel trains to electric trains. This fact alone makes further electrification pointless.

        3. The last several decades have seen irresponsible transport planning leading to emissions increases and a fossil fuel- dependent system. What we need to do now is a U-turn. We have emissions targets to meet, as well as safety goals. And trucks have a big contribution to DSI.

          So this doesn’t need to be either/or. Shifting freight to trains is important, and makes even more sense if it’s electrified. And it doesn’t have to be constrained by the limited thinking of the past.

          The IPCC says we need to make radical change. Do you want to show some analysis of why that radical change wouldn’t include electrification as well as shifting freight to rail?

        4. When the Government recently announced the electrification of the NIMT between Papakura and Pukekohe, the amount for just this section alone was $371 million.

          However with the volume of traffic on the section of the main trunk line between Auckland and Tauranga, which will only grow, together with the issues with diesel exhaust fumes in the Kaimai tunnel, which could restrict further growth in rail traffic volumes through the tunnel, the cost of electrification could be justified on this route and would be well worth it.

        5. Costed by whom exactly Geoff? The Papakura to Pukekohe electrifiction, signalling and track improvements contract was let at $1.8m per track kilometre. You’re saying someone costed Papakura to Tauranga at over double that?

          Green, that is the total project cost which include two entirely new stations, park and rides, rebuilding Papakura station and replacing park of the southern motorway, as well as new electric trains.

          The contract for the electrification, signalling and track works alone is only $66m. The electrification itself is actually only $36m, but it requires some track and signaling works.

        6. @Riccardo:
          Geoff stated exactly who did the costing:
          “Papakura-Tauranga electrification was priced by KiwiRail at $860m a decade ago.”

        7. Yeah but whom? Kiwirail don’t have any staff dedicated to network development or infrastructure planning now let alone a decade ago, so I’m wondering who would have done that work.

        8. “However with the volume of traffic on the section of the main trunk line between Auckland and Tauranga”

          The volume is about 0.3% of the volume between Los Angeles and Barstow, and electrification of that line is deemed uneconomic. In fact no amount of tonnage ever reaches a stage of being economic as the opportunity cost outpaces the investment. It’s always more economic to stick with diesel and use whatever funds you have to undertake mode shift from road to rail, and that does a lot more for reducing emissions than changing the type of locomotives hauling the train.

    2. I think this is a case of check your sources – the data for buses is highly dependent on the type of service and the average passenger numbers.

      Deutch Bahn says that their bus service operates at 1.18MJ/pkm, or 1/3 the energy use estimated in your source. https://ib.deutschebahn.com/ib2016/en/group-management-report/group-performance-environmental-dimension/progress-in-climate-protection/energy-efficiency-increased/
      This also gives some good freight by rail/road/air comparisons: 0.36/1.57/10.68 MJ/tonne.km.

      I can’t find any comparison where planes rank anywhere near buses over the same journey when looking at greenhouse emissions.
      Eg: In this case study the bus is 1/3 the emmissions of flying:
      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/carbon-footprint-transportation-efficiency-graphic/
      In this article they rank about the same in terms of energy (fuel use) but about 1/2 when factoring in the altitude of emissions):
      https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49349566

      You can find comparable “energy per passenger mile numbers” at wikipedia (like your book, from 2009) which shows buses as more energy intensive than planes – in USA. But being Wikipedia you can follow back to the source, and find that the bus energy consumption figures are for transit buses only (ie: inner city, not intercity) and they use an average occupancy of 9. There is no data for intercity buses.

      1. Before the shutdown I traveled lots on InterCity buses in the North Island and generally they were full. So the emissions per passenger would have been pretty good.

        1. I too have noticed Intercity buses usually have a lot of people on them when I see them.

          Even years ago when I travelled on them, they were all near full then too.

          If more train services were provided and were more affordable, and if they connected with Intercity buses, it is likely even more people would use public transport for travel. The numbers are clearly there on the buses to justify reintroducing new ‘Intercity’ type trains.

    3. We need to decide what we spend our transport money on. Climate change demands that transport spend should go on the modes with lower emissions. You’ve expressed doubt about the carbon emissions from bus vs plane, and I hope the other commenters’ answers have satisfied you on that, because your figures don’t match any of the research I’ve done. But I’d like to take it a bit further.

      For transparency, the cost of flying must be quantified, and to be fair to the many New Zealanders who don’t fly much or at all, the full costs should really go onto the users. Other, lower carbon transport modes should receive subsidies, not flying.

      If this impacts some sectors, we can decide to subsidise them, as a country, with an overt and clearly targeted subsidy instead. Keeping ticket prices unnaturally low gives a subsidy to richer people for recreational flights and to sectors we wouldn’t choose to subside. I hope you agree that’s a poor use of public funds.

      The productivity commission says the carbon price may need to rise to $250/tonne. I suspect when people start understanding the economic impact of climate change events (and we’re having a look at the economic impact of a pandemic at the moment, which is a good blueprint) this will need to rise further.

      They also say that an emissions price of $NZ100 per tonne could reduce domestic air travel demand by up to 12%. Clearly travel demand would reduce far more than this at $250/tonne, let alone at a carbon price that would ensure a liveable, biodiverse and thriving carbon-neutral future.

      So where does this leave our smaller regional airports? Many of our airports are subsidised heavily to keep them open, which again, isn’t equitable, and the cost of keeping them open needs to be put onto the ticket prices.

      I mention this because to arrive even at the carbon emissions per passenger rates that Paul and Logan O mention, you need to have big aircraft. Smaller aircraft, currently, have higher emissions per passenger. So until smaller electric domestic aircraft are available (and these will be the first ones that are) you can’t introduce smaller aircraft to accommodate the lower travel demand. Or not without the carbon cost involved making the ticket prices even higher and less affordable, pushing demand down further. So removing carbon and airport subsidies would lower demand on the smaller routes significantly, meaning the small airports will not be viable.

      Now have a look at the comparison of towns served by bus, vs towns served by plane that we made in the post, “Regional Access”. “In contrast to the 15 airports that link North Island towns, InterCity has 277 designated stops in the North Island.”

      The comparison in coverage is already stark, but it may be that only 6 or 8 of these airports remain viable once subsidies are removed! That is not a network.

      The public transport framework exists, but to make the network function, let’s stop wasting money on high carbon aviation and invest instead in the rail and bus network. It’s incredible we’ve let this mode bias continue so long.

    4. “The Book “Time to Eat the Dog?” has a table of energy consumption for various modes of transport which shows a bus has a consumption of 3.5 MJ/passenger-km compared to a Boeing 747 at 1.25 MJ/passenger-km.”

      My initial reaction: That book sounds like it has nonsense printed within its covers.
      Have you ever considered that this book just might not be any credible source?

      For one; a 747 is expending energy to overcome gravitational forces. Physical intuition alone makes me expect it to need a lot more energy to do that than a coach needs to overcome mere frictional forces.

      1. It’s most likely an honest mistake by the authors. There is a lot of utter tripe out there on emissions and pollution data for buses. For a start, these ‘analyses’ usually assume a dirty bus. Then they take all buses across the US and use median occupancy, which is meaningless as most bus service in the US is coverage/socail access service which inherently has low ridership. The median occupancy is also far lower than the mean. Then they assume massive deadheading. The authors pay someone to publish this for them and then boost the results in search algorithims so that people doing well meaning research find these numbers in a ‘real’ study and quote them without further thought. it’s a deliberate tactic to preserve auto-dependency.

        1. the article suggested by someone else here (https://simpleflying.com/turboprops-co2-savior-europe/) quotes Whizz Air saying their turboprops do 57g/RPK/CO2 (revenue passenger kilometers) which is a lot better than the 285g for planes given in the often quoted graph for EU emissions. This is better than the EU figure for a lightly laden bus (12.7 passengers) at 68g per passenger kilometre

      2. Of course this is all bunkum anyway: The energy burnt in flight is only a tiny part of the total environmental cost of the flight, just as the fuel burnt in the bus is only part of the cost of getting a bus from A to B.

        1. I was more meaning the massive infrastructure at the airports and tarmac. The amount of handling and support people and infrastructure required for a single flight. And for that matter the life cost of the vehicle.
          Compared with the humble bus and bus stop.
          Roads are required too of course, but they already exist to carry huge volumes of freight and general traffic.

        2. Logan if you look at the infrastructure cost of Aviation (and Coastal Shipping) you at least don’t have any (significant) infrastructure between the endpoints. Compare these to rail lines or roads where there is a massive infrastructure between the endpoints. Furthermore if we went to photovoltaic power airships (that can take off and land vertically from a paddock) there are minimal infrastructure costs

      3. Daniel Eyre – re “That book sounds like it has nonsense printed within its covers. Have you ever considered that this book just might not be any credible source?”

        That book is written by Brenda and Robert Vale, two of New Zealand’s most highly respected researchers on sustainability, and it was heavily researched and backed up by calculations. If you read it, the logic and workings of all their calculations are laid out for all to see, so that the arguments about the energy use can be tracked. Knowing the Vales, as I do, they are remarkably thorough, and the book is highly unlikely to contain any mistakes. It does, however, contain concepts and thinking that are hard for people to cope with.

    5. Peter Olorenshaw Architect – If the bus is Euro 6 compliant , they are move friendly to environment compared to a bus that is Euro 3 or 4 and lessor extend Euro 5 compliant.

      A diesel electric hauled trains whether its freight or passenger is better then buses due to the train’s carrying capacity.

      Electric or non fossil fuel like Hydrogen train is about the cleanest to the environment at the moment in emissions and indirect environment and health and other pollution costs.

    6. There is credible data to support Long haul flights having lower CO2 emissions than a bus. It has been calculated that the LH flight emission is 102gms per passenger Km and a bus 104.
      Of course if you add the other emissions from flying, that way s an extra 93gms (source BEIS/Defra 2019).
      So you should take the train if you can. However, not all trains are the same. An electric train like the TGV has a 6gms per pax km while a dirty diesel like Kiwi rail has about 41.
      As we will not have electric train travel replacing Long haul flights, the future is in synthetic fuels. There are companies in the US and Europe that make a synthetic jet fuel that has 90% GHG reduction. It’s expensive compared to fossil fuel (around 3 times the price), but that price gap should eventually narrow.
      Of course there are also synthetic diesel fuels. The one Z makes is blended into normal diesel at around 5%, but there is synthetic diesel produced in Singapore that can be used as a 100% replacement. It’s around $1.50 a litre more expensive than normal diesel.
      This synthetic diesel could be used in our trains and while the Opex would increase, there would be no Capex cost.
      And back to planes. Lufthansa has done a study that reports that to replace the energy of 1kg of Jet fuel, you would need 70 kgs of batteries. They also stated that an Airbus 320 Neo can fly for 7 hours on Jet fuel and only 20 minutes on batteries.
      So let’s all fly international on synthetic fuel and take a synthetic fuelled train for domestic travel.

      1. “It’s around $1.50 a litre more expensive than normal diesel.
        This synthetic diesel could be used in our trains and while the Opex would increase, there would be no Capex cost.”

        That would then likely push the cost of rail into “unsustainable”.

        Are we sure that bio doesn’t result in higher maintenance costs such as changing injectors more often or prime mover overhauls at a lower number of kilometres or hours run?

        1. It is not biodiesel, it is a synthetic diesel and can be used as a 100% replacement. The Z product is biodiesel and is only recommended up to 7-10% blend, for the reasons you stated.
          Spending 300M to electrify the line and then also increased opex is also expensive. It is a question of do we want a 90% GHG reduction on rail today (synthetic fuel), do we want to wait for however long it is to electrify the lines (and the Capex), or do we do nothing and continue to run on normal diesel.
          It’s the same question for aviation, except there is no electric option. Simply pay up for the GHG reduction or keep polluting.

      2. Daniel I can’t understand why you are comparing long haul flights with buses, try taking a bus instead of any long haul flight from NZ and you are going to get your feet wet! I guess you are saying that aircraft are relatively full efficient which is true. Of course you need to add radiative forcing to that, but even so they still might be a low climate emission alternative to driving. However its obscene distances of International flights that is the real problem. Even if its with your synthetic fuel its still shit loads of fuel burnt in a short time. I think there is no question there needs to be a behavioural change there.
        Lastly I’ll just add one other alternative and that is photovoltaic power airships with zero emissions. They might take a week to get NZ to Europe but you’d see much more and make more of the journey.

  3. “Long distance buses and the infrastructure to support them do not feature in the transport policies of any major party” is not quite true.

    The Green transport policy (https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/beachheroes/pages/9636/attachments/original/1573598214/Policy-Greens_Transport.pdf?1573598214) has these –

    • Support the development of accessible intercity bus and train travel.
    • Increase the supply of reliable and affordable passenger transport (buses,
    trains and ferries).
    • Encourage innovative ways of providing settlements with a population of more
    than 500 with suitable daytime public transport.
    • Increase commuter and long-distance rail passenger services
    • Encourage a shift from air travel and transport to modes with a lower social and
    environmental impact.

    It could be more specific, but heading in the right direction.

    1. Definitely heading in the right direction. And we stand corrected. Thanks for that, John. I hadn’t seen any of that come through into the activity classes for NZTA’s spend on the NLTF.

      I would have thought that with this as the policy, the Greens might have succeeded at least in getting some data collection happening, which my OIA showed wasn’t the case.

      So we need to work on the other parties, and encourage NZTA to honour its new multimodal focus.

    2. Thanks for pointing that out. Perhaps it could be a Green MP that could more activity promote this form of travel when various other politicians are pushing for their favoured post Covid spend?

  4. The main issue is monopoly.

    Intercity got into monopoly by lobbying council to relocate Manabus from using its good downtown location into somewhere less ideal. Eventually Manabus couldn’t survive and got acquired.

    Similar thing happened at fuller vs 360 ferry. Fuller kill 360 by abusing its market power. Eventually fuller get into monopoly and provide poor service.

    I think our commerce commission should be harder on anti competitive antitrust and monopoly practices especially when public good is involved.

  5. To be honest; the only country where I’ve never seen toilets on long-distance coaches is New Zealand. Toilets seemed to be (almost) standard across Europe, although I didn’t take any coaches for any shorter 1-2 hour journeys.
    Granted: A couple of coach toilets I used in the UK had previously been used by some other passenger who’d left them in a filthy disgusting state, but it was still better than nothing. And of course, it’s the same story for toilets on long-distance trains; they’re sometimes gross but they’re still better than no toilet.

    As for the coach terminal; I’ve made my opinion clear on a previous article that the bullet should be bitten, the nose should be spared from being cut-off and Sky City should just be cut loose from operating a coach terminal altogether.
    I know that many of you hated that opinion and with a fair-enough justification that it would be letting Sky City off of the hook of obligations they signed for, and that they SHOULD be forced to make the terminal work. But I don’t live in the world of “should”, I live in the land of “won’t”. I recognise that Sky city has never had interest in making the terminal work for the ~25 years they’ve had to make it work, and that forcing them to, which is more likely to not work out anyway, probably isn’t worth the arseache.
    At the end of day; what we want is a good coach terminal, not to bother with Sky City. Maybe just force them to cough up some of their many millions towards a replacement terminal (and take them to court if they object)? And then we can be done with them.

      1. The Casino could be forced to pay via the legal system.
        They can’t afford it? Then good riddance to the Casino. That prime land/location can be then put to far better usage.

    1. I agree that it would be better to move the Intercity bus terminal from Sky City. It is a terrible facility and is in the wrong location, tt looks really out of place there.

      I thought the Auckland Transport proposal to relocate it to outside the old Auckland Railway Station in Beach Road was quite a good idea.

      However if Ngati Whatua won’t let this happen, the next best option would be to build a big new modern combined long distance train and bus terminal at The Strand station.

      Auckland really is in need of a decent terminal for both long distance trains and buses and this option with a station upgrade would provide more capacity to serve both, particularly if more new train services were to be established.

      1. The current location is best that is available for both domestic travelers and international tourists.

        Unfortunately Auckland Council and its is marketing branch AEED and lessor extend AT, see inter-regional and long distance bus/coach travel not essential as it is for the elderly, the poor and backpackers. Like with its other gateways – Auckland Airport and the sheds for the Northern Explorer, Auckland is sending a bad message to domestic travelers and international tourists.

        1. Disagree that the current location is the best available. Queens wharf would be better than the current terminal at SkyCity.

          Also don’t think Auckland Airport is too bad.

          However I do agree the shipping container station at the crumbling grotty Strand station is a real embarrassment. What sort of impression does this make of New Zealand’s biggest city and of New Zealand’s rail service? The Stand station really does reflect it accurately unfortunately..

          I agree though with the suggestion that a decent combined long-distance coach and rail terminal could be developed at The Strand.

          Also like the idea of the developing one on Dive Crescent in Tauranga like what was suggested, that location is perfect with being really close to both the city centre and the SH2 expressway.

          An inter-regional train service is really needed to Tauranga, as well as a suburban service within the Tauranga urban area to help address the growing road congestion issues there. Tauranga is rapidly growing and is now NZ’s fifth largest city.

        2. Green – Skycity is in less than 10 minute walking distance to 8 hotels, 2 apartment hotels and 3 backpackers hostels where as the Queens wharf is not. The ideal location would have been if the the bus terminal on the first floor above the current railway station at Britomart for all bus service whether they were urban, regional, inter-regional, long distance or sightseeing was built at the same time as the Britomart was built per the original design concepts.

          Having all inter-regional and long distance bus/coach services terminating/departing from the airport or Manukau is a stupid idea and clearly show a total lack of understanding the needs of domestic and tourists traveling to and from Auckland.

        3. Kris- I never said Auckland Airport or Manukau would be a good place to relocate the Auckland Intercity bus terminal to? I was responding to what you were saying about the terminals at Auckland Airport and The Strand. I was saying I’ve always thought Auckland Airport wasn’t too bad and I agree the current terminal at the The Strand is terrible.

          There is no point bringing up the original Britomart bus terminal idea as that certainly is not an option now. The original plan was dropped as it was hugely expensive and would have involved the destruction of all the heritage buildings around the precinct. And could you image how unpleasant an underground bus terminal would be, it would be worse than the original grotty city bus terminal that used to occupy the Britomart site.

          Better to build a new combined terminal at The Strand station which is a realistic option and would deal with the current appalling facilities for both long distance train and bus passengers in one go.

  6. After the lockdown in the new ‘normal’ could our government encourage the new regional Air New Zealand to run a NZ wide bus service? The company would raise the bar when it comes to the provision of better passenger amenities. I hope this is an opportunity to think differently.

    1. Yes, it’s a definite possibility. I wouldn’t like the existing bus operators who’ve been left with no support for so long to be run over roughshod, but there are options like this to look at.

    2. I doubt that would be like or would work – Air New Zealand is already in dire straits at the moment and has a vested interest to have as many people as possible flying on their planes, for which they would obtain more revenue from to stay in business.

      Also, there is already a nationwide bus network in the form of Intercity and it has already been shown that demand is not there for another nationwide bus operator to be viable – with the recent folding of Naked / Mana bus.

      The Government would be better to invest in a new regional passenger train network across the country and invest in building new modern combined bus-train terminals at railway stations to serve both train passengers and all bus operators.

      It could also come to an arrangement with Intercity to have their services connect with train services where possible to create a more integrated nationwide public transport network.

      1. Yes I agree this would be a really good move by the Government to create new regional passenger train services and build new combined terminals which trains and buses could use. It would certainly make using public transport for inter-regional travel much more appealing encourage people to use public transport.

        The Government would be best to invest in trains as most people will pick a train over a bus if given the choice – they just need to provide the train to provide the choice. With trains having greater appeal to New Zealanders, they will be more likely to get out of their cars to use them.

        The new stations also need to be well placed and visible, and easy to access if you don’t want people to be reliant on cars if they are to use trains or buses. I remember the old NZR Travel Centre at Rotorua was a prime example of a good well placed combined station in the CBD – then NZR closed it and shifted the station out of the city and had the Geyserland Express railcar service they later started, terminate in the freight yard at Koutu! No wonder the railcar wasn’t a success..

        I recall Napier also had a combined station which used to be used by both Intercity and the former Bay Express train, which was well located in the CBD, but is no longer used for that purpose:

        https://www.google.com/maps/place/85+Munroe+Street,+Napier+South,+Napier+4110/@-39.4970291,176.913439,575m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x6d684cdb31774fa1:0xdbadeed115998ac2!8m2!3d-39.4970301!4d176.9156277

        The Strand in Auckland would be a good location for building a new decent combined terminal, easy direct access to the motorway for buses and close to the CBD:

        https://www.google.com/maps/place/Auckland+Strand/@-36.8483843,174.7767058,597m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb66c00bc634ee4dd!8m2!3d-36.8486113!4d174.7789253

        In Tauranga there is a really good site where a combined terminal could be built where a car park is currently located on Dive Crescent right by The Strand in the CBD:

        https://www.google.com/maps/place/26+Dive+Crescent,+Tauranga+3110/@-37.6797712,176.1691648,295m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x6d6ddbe1310be331:0xd82cb378037efc71!8m2!3d-37.6795483!4d176.1705059

        1. Any new trains need to provide economy carriages – or at least economy fares, as well as premium fare luxury carriages for tourists.

          Rail travel is not really an option for the average New Zealander nowadays wanting to go away for a holiday weekend or for kids to travel to go stay with their grandparents etc during the school holidays, as the current few trains that KiwiRail do run are for tourists and are far too expensive.

          I remember travelling from Wellington to Napier on the Endeavour and to Auckland on the Northerner. They were modest but comfortable, and were affordable and had a buffet carriage where you could get reasonable food for a reasonable price.

          The Government needs to get KiwiRail to become more of a company that provides services for Kiwis – right across the country.

        2. AB – NZ needs to have a national public transport network operated by a National Public Transport Agency, being a separate entity under the Ministry of Transport to plan, finance, procure and operate a fully integrate ‘turn up N travel’ urban, semi rural, rural, regional and inter-regional bus, train and ferry services across all 16 regions in NZ, where a travel whether they are local or tourist can travel from Kaitaia to Stewart Island, using an ‘open’ tap n travel’ brand card or a Visa, Mastercard, Amex or Diners Club contactless card.

          This would operate independently to the existing ‘book n travel’ long distance scenic train services and inter-regional and long distance bus/coach and scenic sightseeing services.

        3. Grace – Its going to be interesting to see what Kiwirail is going to do with the 3 scenic tourist train services – the Northern Explorer, the TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific, since there will not alot international tourists around for at least 12-18 months.

          Since Kiwirail is very freight focus, i have a sneaky feeling they will stored until international tourism starts to pick up.

        4. I doubt KiwiRail will stop running the Tranz Alpine, although they might run a much smaller train than previously.

          They could potentially use their ‘Great Journeys’ trains to start / trial some new routes for the domestic travel market, e.g. Auckland-Mt Maunganui, Wellington-Napier, Christchurch-Dunedin.

        5. Green – Hmm, I am not sure about the TranzAlpine. Yes, they could operate a 5 module train set – luggage van, 2 seating carriages, 1 cafe carriage and observation carriage for Australian and domestic tourism but it will depend on connecting bus services between Greymouth and Franz and Fox Glaciers and Franz and Fox Glaciers and Queenstown and how tight boarder restriction will be between NZ and Australia and the economies of both countries will be like over the next 12 months.

          Operating for the domestic tourism, they could operate a 4 module train set -2 seating carriages, 1 cafe carriage and observation carriage as day excursions but current fares are expensive for the domestic market unless they promote a $150.00 adult excursion or $99.00 for a child but this would be for the summer only.

        6. Kris- Those sort of fare prices are too high and off-putting to most New Zealanders.

          The various carriages of the current train-sets could be reconfigured into smaller trains to run new regular inter city type travel services for the domestic market and trial some new routes such as to Mt Maunganui, Napier and Dunedin. The fares do not and should not be premium tourist fares. Better to get more bums on seats and full trains with cheaper fares to test the market.

          It would be interesting to see an honest transparent breakdown of the real costs involved with running a passenger train e.g. the fuel, the actual driver’s hourly rate which they are paid, the onboard train crew and food costs, any maintenance and servicing costs.

          I recall another person (Geoff I think?) commenting on here somewhere about the high price which KiwiRail charges for passenger services with the rate they charge out the cost of the driver and the locomotive from KiwiRail Freight to their own ‘Great Journey’s of New Zealand’ business. They price their own passenger business out of the market, let alone anyone else who wants to run or run a passenger train service. No wonder there is so few passenger services nowadays and no wonder Auckland Transport was so keen to be rid of having locomotive hauled trains manned by KiwiRail drivers.

        7. I agree with Green – KiwiRail should get some new services up and running to new destinations, such as those mentioned. I would also add relaying the line to Whakatane to have a service running along the scenic Bay of Plenty coastline.

          Then perhaps get this guy to come over and do a ‘Great Railway Journeys of New Zealand’ series to promote them:

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/tv-guide/120739532/former-british-politician-michael-portillos-great-australian-railway-journeys

        8. Green – Kiwirail what I have seen and heard that Kiwirail is not that really interested in operating passenger train services with out subsidies, hence the three scenic passenger train services have high fares to cover operating costs.

          The only inter-regional commuter style passenger train service Kiwirail do operate is the Capital Connection between Wellington and Palmerston North and that ended up being subsidize by the GWRC and Horizons Regional Council as NZTA currently does not subsidize public transport that between regions.

          This why NZ needs a national public transport agency to plan, finance, co-ordinate and operate a fully integrated national public transport network under one brand across all 16 regions instead of the current hap hazed and disorganised costly public transport operations we currently have.

      2. Robin – Mana/Naked bus died as they tried to under cut InterCity with a basic route network and they loss money.

        The InterCity network is a comprehensive and would take alot on money for bus operator/s to replicate and operate it.

        1. I think it was more to do with Manabus buying the failing Nakedbus which then dragged the whole lot down. Plus Manabus being moved here and there in the Auckland CBD was probably the final nail in the coffin along with a new manager focused only on the boats.

        2. Yes too many cut price bus operators and one by one they failed back to having just one nationwide operator – a bit like what has happened with new cheap airline operators over the years.

          I always thought the name Naked Bus was an odd choice and indicated a different type of service.. 😛

  7. I’ve enjoyed my InterCity trips; had lots of great drivers. But I know people who have been caught short by the lack bathrooms, and unfriendly drivers, who won’t travel with them anymore.

    The driver always tells us not to help with the bags, so we all stand around as he breaks his back. I didn’t realise the company won’t let them help elderly people get on and off. Gee that’s stupid. In comparison to what they have to do with the bags. Pretty sure not all the doors lift out of the way like in that picture, too? They got in the way, anyway.

    1. The reason the driver loads the bags, the drivers load the bags for the destination which makes it easier for unloading at in between stops. He also knows to stack up to keep the bus balanced.

      The drivers will try to help elderly people on and off the bus/coach if they have good mobility and are seated in the front seats unless the coach has the premium (Gold) seats in the front. You must realize that drivers have a timetable to stick to which means they can not help elderly who have restricted mobility off or on a bus/coach.

  8. I wonder how cleaners could be employed to look after bus toilets? There must be unemployed people in each small town who’d be grateful for the job? They could hop on the bus at each stop and tidy up. And look after the facilities at each bus stop. The local council employs staff to pick up street rubbish. This would be an extension to showcase the town.

    After all, we have caretakers at schools who look after school toilets. Recently an Australian school principal decided that school toilets needed a makeover, to help with children’s mental health. (because the loo is the place a child goes to hide if they are miserable for any reason.) That started a fashion with children designing their own cheerful painted art works.

    Small towns could compete to have the most attractive facilities. When a cruise ship docks there are hosts or guides (employed or volunteers) who offer tours and advice. Ports are rated by ship passengers on their friendliness and facilities. Bus stops and towns could be rated in the same way.

    1. My memories of the public toilets in the CPO building in Britomart were almost enough to put me off public transport!

      Likewise my experience of toilets on trains. I dread to think what one on a bus would be like. Better to have good well maintained public toilets at stations and at stops in small towns.

      Public toilets can, and should, be made nicer, especially at busy places. Have them designed with good ventilation and natural lighting, and tiles throughout so that they can be hosed out. Wall mounted urinals are another terrible design with the amount of urine puddles always under them which gets walked in, the old-fashioned floor mounted trough style with a grate are much better and cleaner.

      It should also be remember that good cleanliness can also help prevent the spread of germs and disease, such as Covid-19 which can be spread through contact with faeces.

      Everyone loves a clean toilet and will remember it.

      1. One thing I remember shocking me when I first arrived in London was the fact that at the train stations; you have to pay to use the toilets.

  9. Quick observation of bikes on buses… My wife and I recently finished a bike trip from Auckland to Lawrence (near Dunedin), and didn’t ride on highways at all, through judicious use of trains, buses, ferries, water taxis, and a jet boat. Oh, and a (CO2-offset) flight home…
    Intercity were overall really great- happy to receive our bikes broken down and carried in bike bags, no problem at all. A few services don’t carry bikes (eg Auckland to Wellington or Kerikeri), but the vast majority do.
    The biggest shock was the train from Auckland to Ohakune… just 2 bike spaces!
    It was an awesome trip, and NZ’s great rides are absolutely fantastic- but so few kiwis on them! Hopefully more people try it and see you don’t need to go overseas for an epic journey/ holiday.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but you’ve really inspired me to do this as a treat when all the travel restrictions are done.

    2. Surprised that the Northern Explorer only had space for two bikes? KiwiRail recently added a new carriage to the consist which is a rebuilt former SA carriage, which has been converted into a luggage / service support carriage. Would have thought they would have more room for bikes allocated in this new carriage? Perhaps it wasn’t added on the train the day you traveled?

      1. The Caledonian Sleeper trains take not only bikes and pets but if you are off for a bit of grouse shooting you can also take your shotgun!

  10. In the news today Auckland Transport have dropped the idea of relocated the Intercity bus terminal to outside the old Auckland Railway Station on Beach Road following Ngati Whatua’s objections to the plans:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/local-government/120800342/contested-plan-for-bus-terminal-on-auckland-mori-land-dropped

    Other options to consider should now include Queen’s Wharf, or to develop a new combined long distance train and bus terminal at The Strand station.

    1. A combined bus and train station at the Strand is the best suggestion to date but it still not that traveler friendly when it comes to accessing accommodation unlike Skycity is.

  11. There are 2 parts for NZ to have a national public travel network.

    The first part is to have a fully integrated national ‘turn up n travel’ urban, semi rural, rural, regional and inter-regional bus, train and ferry travel network that plans, funds, procures, co-ordinates and operates on a cost recovery basis by a national public transport agency entity under the Ministry of Transport covering all 16 regions in NZ, operating under a national brand and a national travel information/timetable website and app, allowing a person to travel from Kaitaia to Stewart Island using a ‘tap n travel’ open payment/ticketing system using a brand travel card and Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Diners Club contactless cards,

    Second part is ‘book n travel’ inter-regional and long distance bus/coach and passenger rail networks which will not be subsidized by the national public transport agency but works in association with the agency.

    To support the 2 parts of the national public transport network would require towns and cities to provide local/long distance bus hubs like Hamilton Transport Centre, Christchurch Bus Xchange and local/ regional/ long distance rail/bus transfer hubs like the Wellington railway station, that have toilets, waiting area, ticketing/travel information, refreshment facilities and possible i-sites for more major transfer hub and at least toilets and waiting area for smaller transfers hubs.

    With regards to the InterCity and Skip networks, neither travel brands do not owned their bus/coaches, as bus/coaches are provide mainly by Ritchies, Tranzit and lessor extent Nelson Coachlines (SBL Group). Excluding the InterCity brand double deckers coaches, single decker bus/coaches are standard design ex tour coaches and most don’t have on board toilets hence the lack of toilets facilities on most InerCity and all Skip services. Whilst the double deckers did initially have toilets, that have been take out, as they used a cassette holding system that become blocked or over flowed causing bad smells for passengers. Some passenger toilet habits, NZ’s roads conditions and lack of waste disposal facilities at some depots was also another reason for their withdrawal.

    Unlike in Europe, NZ built double deckers where not design to carry bikes due coach length restrictions. The luggage storage facilities was designed for limit stops travel not multiple stops that the double decks experience to drivers frustrations.

    All InterCity and Skip services have been designed to have comfort and refreshment stops that are 2 to 3 hours apart.

    InterCity does have a comprehensive national travel network that included inter-island ferry travel between the North and South Island>

    I do agree there is a need to have a another national coach operator that offers a more premium limited stop service for those who wants a more comfortable ‘express’ travel.

    1. I agree with what you say about establishing a national public transport agency. However rather than setting up a separate entity under the Ministry of Transport, it could be set up as a passenger division of the NZ Railways Corporation as part of a much needed restructure of rail transport and KiwiRail.

      KiwiRail’s Infrastructure and Engineering division (i.e. the track, Train Control, workshops etc) should be separated and vested in the existing rail land holding company NZ Railways Corporation, which should become a Government rail agency – the rail equivalent of the NZTA.

      The rail regulator function of the NZRC should be transferred from NZTA to NZRC as well.

      Ownership and responsibility of all commuter passenger rail services, rolling stock and passenger stations should be transferred to the NZRC under a new division passenger division, which could be called Cityline. This is a well recognised and very fitting brand name.

      The responsibility for light rail in Auckland and anywhere else such as Wellington, should also be transferred to NZRC / Cityline.

      The NZRC should be the agency responsible for developing and administering a new nationwide intergrated ticketing system which is used and accepted by all nationwide bus, train and ferry operators.

      The NZRC should also be responsible for planning, developing, and administering the integrated nationwide public transport network. This should also include developing new combined long distance train / bus terminals in all towns where services are provided.

      With the infrastructure and commuter passenger rail operations separated from KiwiRail, the rail network could be opened up for any operator to use, being administered by the NZRC which would set national training, qualification and rolling stock standards, and would administer access and charge track access fees.

      KiwiRail would become a SOE rail operator.

      New nationwide regional intercity type commuter passenger train services should be established running at least daily between all the main centres. As part of being a part of an integrated network and using the NZRC combined bus-train terminals, the services provided by Intercity and other long distance operators need to connect with the train services where applicable.

      Doing the above would establish what is very much needed to achieve a greater mode shift out of cars onto public transport by creating a level playing field and a more user-friendly, integrated public transport network.

    2. Robin – I totally agree with you.

      NZ Railways Corporation (NZRC) is currently trading as Kiwirail Holdings Ltd as State Owned Enterprise. I do agree that the above track infrastructure, signaling and train control needs to be separated out of Kiwirail Holdings and that NZRC be a Crown entity for the land and re-creates ONTRACK Infrastructure to operate an ‘open access’ national track network for HR on cost recovery basis and also be responsible for all LR track, signalling and movements control for any LR system/s in NZ like in Auckland and Christchurch. This would allow for the re-introduction of a regional passenger rail network than cam be operate by a contracted operator like Alstrom, Siemens, Skoda, etc who can provide the rolling stock, spares, maintenance facility, drivers, etc. These companies could operate any little rail system

      Kiwirail Holdings Ltd would be the rail operator similar to Vline.

      NZRC would be similar to Vicrail.

      The national public transport agency would be similar to PTV (Public Transport Victoria)

      NZTA is similar to Vicroads

      Vicroads, Vicrail, PTV and Vline are entities under Victoria’s Department of Transportation similar to our Ministry of Transport.

      1. Kris- NZ Railways Corporation and KiwiRail Holdings Ltd are two separate SOEs and have been since 2011 when the then National Government split everything with KiwiRail away from the land assets into a new SOE called KiwiRail Holdings Ltd. Initially when the Helen Clark Labour Government bought back Toll Rail’s rail and ferry assets, which they renamed KiwiRail, it was merged into the NZ Railways Corporation, which traded under both the KiwiRail and ONTRACK names. But since the split in 2011 when KiwiRail Holdings Ltd was created, NZRC has remained as a separate SOE to hold the rail land, with no financial return expected (which ought to be expectation for rail infrastructure). The NZRC is administered by KiwiRail under contract however.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Railways_Corporation

        Applying the Victorian structure for transport into the NZ context makes sense as you describe.

        However I would be cautious about the value of having private foreign operators operating publicly-owned transport assets, as the public money from taxpayers and ratepayers which goes into paying the premium cost to provide profits to these companies, then leaves the country and is not really benefiting the NZ economy. This same public money could be better invested in providing better public transport services / infrastructure, and pay and conditions for NZ workers.

        There is an issue of the ‘race to the bottom’ with regards to the current tendering system for winning public transport contracts in NZ, with the undercutting that goes on to win contracts and then having to try and make profits out of cutting staff pay and conditions and the other sub-contracted services provided which are tied to these contracts e.g. cleaning and security contracts. Most people do not realise or appreciate how poorly paid these staff are and the appalling conditions they work under, with exploitation in sectors, many of which are not represented or protected by unions.

        Having public money invested in State-owned KiwiRail speaks for itself with the country investing in itself. KiwiRail’s operating business, when separated from the infrastructure costs, actually currently runs at a profit.

        The non-profitable infrastructure and commuter rail passenger services, both existing and any future new ones, should be vested in the NZRC as a not-for-profit Government rail agency providing essential services and infrastructure.

        1. i do agree with you. The current procuring model needs to be change so frontline staff like drivers, train managers, etc have at least the living wage and better working conditions.

          The current model with individual profit centered companies especially the overseas ones, who are involved in our public transport operations, are indirectly not giving value for money to the tax and rate payers and keeps NZ on a low wage neoliberal economy.

      2. Melbourne makes up 80 % of Victoria’s population and the next biggest cities are both basically satellites of Melbourne. It makes sense there to have a state wide PT organisation.

        I can’t see any logic of having Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch PT run by the same organisation. Auckland for example should be free to spend more, set higher standards, set lower fares if it wishes.

        1. Jezza – You really need to take off your ‘Auckland’ tinted glasses off and look at the bigger picture.

          Why can’t NZ have a nation public transport agency that plans, funds procures, co-ordinates and operates urban, semi rural, rural, regional and inter-regional bus, train and ferry travel across all 16 regions that have same zone based fares based on the distance traveled?

          Why does it have to all about Auckland and lessor extent Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, etc.

          The PTV model would work, as NZ is similar to Victoria as both have one major population centre with smaller cities, towns and communities radiating from it.

        2. NZ is not similar to Victoria for the reasons I described above. NZ’s 2nd biggest city is on another island, Victoria’s 2nd biggest city Geelong is a satellite of Melbourne.

          There is no good reason to have public transport decisions for Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton being made in Wellington, if anything our cities should have more autonomy than they do now.

          I think it is you with the tinted glasses thinking that a centralised bureaucracy would result in better outcomes, it’s done nothing for transport infrastructure in our main centres for the last 60 years.

          I fully agree there should be better funding and co-ordination of regional public transport but that doesn’t mean PT in our main centres needs to be dragged in as well.

        3. I agree with Kris.
          I doubt that base of geographic location would be any hindrance to dedicated, specialized experts in public transport operations and the information and expertise they would have.

          I have my strong reservations about the decisions made by Auckland Transport, what they’ve promoted (*cough* light rail), and the operations of their electric trains.
          I think that all public transport would be better entrusted to a dedicated team whose motivations are delivering the most efficient and ultimately best system with the good of the nation in mind rather than parochialism and their own agenda.

          And I couldn’t give a toss where this bureau happened to be located. It could be based down in Dunedin for all I care.

        4. jezza – I disagree with you. You need to see the structure of a national public transport network on how it would work before writing off the whole concept. By the way, its not a centralised bureaucracy.

          Currently public transport in NZ is disorganised, not efficient, not cost effective and expensive, especially for those regions who have low population bases if using the current public transport guidelines.

          I ask the question, why can’t the folks in Reefton have efficient public transport to Greymouth and Westport like the folks living in the Auckland have or the folks living in Raglan having more frequent bus services to/from Hamilton?

          You mentioned about centralised bureaucracy, just look at NZTA and what it is doing and how unequal the funding is, in roading and public transport.

        5. Daniel Eyre – I totally agree with you. Its about cost effectiveness and efficiency in procuring and delivery of public transport services across all regions than we have at the moment.

          The government can get better deals and financing options in bulk especially when in come to regional and inter-regional HR and LR rail systems than what regions can get on their own, as most regional councils are cash strapped.

        6. NZTA would be Exhibit A in my case for not having a national agency for public transport. It and it’s predecessors are the main reason our cities have had such poor transport outcomes in the last 60 years.

          I can’t see any reason a new agency would be any different, bear in mind it’s minister in charge would be Phil Twyford at the moment.

  12. I have used InterCity buses regularly over recent years. There have been good drivers and bad drivers, pleasant trips and ones where I felt like i was locked in a prison van waiting for some distant toilet stop wishing i had not had that last cup of tea. I have come to realise this is not public transport but a profit making venture by a private company who tries to minimise costs. It somehow needs to become part of the public transport network with enforceable standards.

    1. InterCity is a travel brand own by Entrada Travel Group (formally InterCity Group) and does not own its buses/coaches.

      Entrada Travel Group is own by Ritchies, Tranzit and Nelson Coachlines and provide buses/coaches for the InterCity, Skip, Great Sights, Awesomenz travel and sightseeing brands.

  13. My sole experience on an InterCity bus was on the Picton – Christchurch run. It was better than the Northern Explorer or the InterIslander in that it had Wifi.

    Unfortunately it was impossible to use electronic devices or read a book due the constant jolting and shimmying. Probably a function more of the road than the bus.

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